A part of the Tora-portion of this week is:
Sarah dies at age 127 and is buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron, which Abraham purchases from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver.
Rashi: "AND THE LIFE OF SARAH WAS 127 YEARS (literally, 100 years, 20 years and 7 years) — The reason the word שנה is written at every term is to tell you that each term must be explained by itself as a complete number: at the age of one hundred she was as a woman of twenty as regards sin — for just as at the age of twenty one may regard her as having never sinned, since she had not then reached the age when she was subject to punishment, so, too, when she was one hundred years old she was sinless — and when she was twenty she was as beautiful as when she was seven."
The death of this righteous woman, Abraham's wife, brings him into a new test given by G-d. G-d had promised the land to Abraham, and now, having to bury his beloved wife, he had to buy a piece of land. Having to buy a grave, was not so much the test. After all, although he had been promised the land, it did not mean that the land already belonged to him. The test lies mainly in the excessive amount he has to pay for the grave. 400 Silverlings, which is more than a year's salary at the time. 400 Is the gematria value of the letter tav. The last letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Beth. You can also say it is the maximum amount Ephron could ask for the land. This may also show us something of Ephron's character. His name also has the gematria value of 400. Ephron was only satisfied with the best/most he could achieve.
Which brings us to the question of why he does not just buy another grave, if this one is far, far too expensive for the amount he has to pay for it.
Abraham knew the "secret" / the importance of this tomb.
Rabbi Rechumai taught that after Adam was banished from the Garden of Eden, G‑d Himself hewed out of rock a place near the entrance to the Garden where he would bury Adam.
G-d made this tomb not only for Adam but for 4 couples. Adam and Chava (Eve), Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. [Four is the small gematria of tav.] Eventually the location was forgotten, and not a soul knew about it. Until Abraham, who entered the cave, saw it, sniffed the scent of Eden, and heard a voice saying, “Adam is buried here, and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob should be prepared for this place as well.” He saw a candle burning there, and left.
Abraham's test here, is a test we face regularly in everyday life. We must learn to invest in that which is truly of value.
We can buy any "grave", but we must buy the one that is most valuable. Translating to more mundane events. If you have to choose between reading a profane book or a holy book, choose the latter, even if it is much more expensive to buy. If you have to choose between buying clothes that are modest or "normal" clothes, choose the modest variant, even when it is more expensive in purchase.
It applies not only in the actual act of buying something. But also how you handle your time. Do you spend your time - time is one of the most precious things a person owns - on charity, Torah study, etc. or do you hang out in front of the television or sit in the pub?
Life constantly consists of making choices, and like Abraham, we must learn to make the best choices, even if it costs us more time, more money, more effort, etc.
Brought By Angelique Sijbolts
Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners en intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.
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